Cafe Picasso is hidden in a small unappealing strip mall in Somerville.
Inside, its nicely decorated with a large open kitchen and nice artwork on the walls. (amusingly, it is the only place i have ever seen that framed a copy of the flyer with their coupon specials - but this particular artwork is tucked on the back corner wall).
The maitre'd stuck us at a small table for two (the place was half-empty) but the waiter came over and asked us if we wanted to sit at a bigger table, which we were pleased to do.
Our waiter is from Mexico, but he has the oddest accent... a Mexican accent trying to do Italian or something. Very nice and efficient and he took pains to explain the many daily specials to us clearly.
They bring out a huge bread basket filled with thick slices of a country italian loaf, and dozens of garlic "knots", and the de riguer dish of olive oil for dipping (nicely seasoned with some fresh basil though). The bread was excellent and i kept eating tons of it.
We had an order of fried calamari, which was one of the best fried calamar i have had in a long time. the breading was crispy and very light, and the calamar was like butter. They brought us two bowls of sauce, hot and sweet.. I sort of couldnt figure out why the hot sauce was not hot, until i realized as we finished the last few bites that i had the bowl of sweet sauce near me.
They bring you a small house salad, soaked in oil-and-vinegar, which was very vinegary, but for some reason just fit perfectly into the meal.
I ordered the "Risotto Principessa", a rissotto in creamy sauce with shrimp and asparagus. Its a HUGE bowlful of risotto. I LOVE risotto. They give you several medium shrimp (unfortunately with the tail on) and many pieces of asparagus mixed in. The quality was very good, and the risotto was the perfect texture.. ."toothy" and thick. However, they obviously make it with heavy cream, which is a little bit odd and slightly weird in a risotto (to me, anyway). the shrimp and asparagus were very fresh, but the dish lacked any real flavor until i added liberal applications of salt, pepper, and parm cheese (unfortunately, pre-grated parm cheese = sawdust).
My companion had a fettucine alfredo, Also a huge bowlful. Nice and creamy, also needed some parm cheese. Pasta cooked al dente.
We had a small order of broccoli rabe in garlic and oil, which was a needed "bite" to counter the heavy creaminess of the dishes.
All in all, a very nice place.
They do takeout, and apparently do pizzas as well (perhaps not on Saturday nites?) and have half-price pasta entrees on monday and tuesday nites.
We'll definitely go back.